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tv   CBS 5 Eyewitness News at Noon  CBS  March 11, 2011 12:00pm-12:30pm PST

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caption colorado a tsunami washes ashore in the bay area after an incredible power earthquake, 8.9 magnitude hits japan. boats tossed around in the santa cruz harbor many smashing into one another. >> up and down the coast, the tsunami warning prompted voluntary evacuation as people tried to escape low-lying areas, a massive backup on highway 92. >> and back in japan, devastation as the 23-foot tsunami slammed the coast, buildings cars, boats, just washed away in the powerful wave. police reported finding hundreds of bodies as the waves receded, hundreds more still missing. it's been a very, very hectic day. good afternoon, everybody. i'm frank mallicoat. >> i'm elizabeth wenger. sydnie does have the day off. >> we have team coverage of the disaster in japan including the pacific tsunami impact along our california coast. >> that's right. let's start with len ramirez
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who is live in santa cruz where we have seen the worst of the damage and this is a sad day for some boat owners. >> reporter: absolutely. a very sad day, a very scary day for everyone here in santa cruz right now as a coast guard helicopter passes right overhead. basically the situation is deteriorating here rather than getting better. within the past half hour, we have had two strongest tsunami surges come through the harbor here and whatever boats were still tied up at the point were broken free. many new breakthroughs of the boats here as this tsunami wave came through. going to give you a live look at what is going on here. the harbor is calm at the moment but we have been having surge after surge come through. there's probably, gosh, i'd have to estimate more than 100 craft have broken loose, including small kayaks all the way up to big cruisers and sailboats. you can see that there's a lot
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of people standing here watching, most of them boat owners basically shell shocked by what's going on. they have never seen anything like this before. people were sobbing. one said in earlier. -- here's what one of them had to say earlier. [ pause ] >> it's devastating. it's truly devastating. [ crying ] >> it just keeps getting worse. i keep getting phone calls. i apologize. uhm, we have been here six years and... this is really scary. i'm sorry. i'm very emotional. i gotta go. >> reporter: that was one of the boat owners here. obviously, a lot of people have a lot of investment tied up in these boats. some of the people live on these boats. some of the people, these are their homes that are going up by this tsunami wave. the surge has been going back and forth, back and forth. each time it does that, it does a little more damage. if we can come back to our live ground picture, i can show you crowds gathering on the bridge
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over the top of the harbor itself. you can see hundreds of people there just watching, spectating as this thing continues to unfold today. just a few minutes ago, we had a very big wave come through and like a panic that kind of gets spread word of mouth as people say, you know, surge is coming, surge is coming. and people like run up the hill scurry up the hill to higher ground. we're afraid that this might come to where our level right now where we are and if that does happen, we obviously have to leave our camera position here. so far it's come to within probably 10 or 15 feet of where i'm standing at the moment. but it hasn't come higher than that. there is a standing mandatory evacuation for this area. the police and harbor patrol have been coming through asking people to leave. some have left but a lot of boat owners are still here trying to tie up their boats every time a surge goes through, it calms down, they go back to retie and hopefully they will survive it. >> we just looked at an
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unbelievable piece of video and i think it's from your vantage point where you are right now where the boats are just going up and down and that surge comes in. when was that? >> reporter: a half hour ago when the big surge came through. it was really something to see. you hear things cracking. you hear wood splitting. you hear things breaking free. and you hear cries of astonishment of people sitting here watching their boats get destroyed. >> all right. len ramirez live for us this morning -- or this afternoon in santa cruz. amazing. i mean, the danger is still not over yet even at this hour. >> what len said, you can hear these boats cracking against one another throwing those kayaks and the very expensive sailboats, you know, like twigs really. unbelievable video. as we have seen, the dangerous tsunami waves have been spreading all along the west coast all morning long. >> yeah. let's go to our expert here. we have meterologist lawrence karnow who joins us. lawrence, we have been seeing
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all morning and now into the afternoon, we have only seen damage along certain parts of the california coast. >> yeah. >> an interesting pattern. >> yeah, that's true. as a matter of fact, it's marched to believe that this earthquake originated so far away in japan last night. and then just soared across the pacific going about 500 to 600 miles per hour, if you can believe that. and the focal point ended up being right in the santa cruz area. that's what we have seen so far at least in the bay area and the warnings continuing outside. we are not done just yet. remember, there are a lot of aftershocks, some of those aftershocks 7.0 and yeah, they are big-time quakes. so yeah, they generated some big-time swells out there. check out this whirlpool that we had earlier on when we had a surge coming onshore. it brought with it a lot of that water two to three feet in height moving onshore but this is not your typical wave. this is not just a wave lapping at the coastline. this is a whole body of water that's running two to three feet above the rest of the
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ocean and then sweeping onshore at that high rate of speed. it looks like things have settled down in some spots, but boy, i'll tell you what the santa cruz area just seems to be the focal point right now. they tend to have the harbor built the way it is in such a fashion that that water and that energy is being funneled right into the santa cruz area. so yeah, it definitely tends to be a focal point with the energy and also the damage there. here's live look for you right now and you can see it is just a mess. and we are not done just yet. as len has been talking about, they have seen surge after surge and there is still a tsunami warning in effect for the bay area so be very, very careful. stay away from the water's edge. back to you. >> thank you. fascinating from a weather perspective but causing a lot of devastation. the tsunami that slammed into japan today killed hundreds of people. it was the strongest in that area in nearly 1200 years. this is video of the tsunami hitting into the city of
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sendai. up to 300 bodies were found there. another 150 are confirmed dead elsewhere in japan. and more than 500 people are still missing. as randall pinkston tells us, authorities are still assessing the scale of the disaster. >> reporter: the massive tsunami crashed onto japan's northeast coast swallowing entire villages and swamping dozens of cities. the 23-foot wave swept away cars, boats, homes, and entire buildings. residents fled to rooftops to escape the water and mud. they say they have found as many as 300 bodies in the city of zen tie but officials are having a -- sendai but officials are having a hard time getting a handle on the scale of destruction. a magnitude 8.9 earthquake unleashed a devastation shortly before 3 p.m. >> the entire floor was shaking almost like a carnival ride or something like that only you never knew when it was going to stop. >> reporter: in downtown tokyo,
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large buildings shook and workers poured into the street. cameras inside offices and newsrooms captured the moment the quake hit. even a country used to earthquakes has never experienced anything like this. >> this is the fifth largest earthquake to be recorded in the world since 1900, a magnitude 8.9 and the largest in japan's recorded history. >> the tsunami waves of over 4 meters were observed. >> reporter: dozens of aftershocks followed. fires are burning up and down a 1300-mile stretch of coastline including this massive blaze at an oil refinery. japan's defense ministry has sent troops to help in the hard hit northern part of the country. train service that usually serves 10 million people a day has been suspended and airports in tokyo and northern japan are closed indefinitely. randall pinkston, cbs news. all right. we are going to go out live to sfo right now. we have been on and off the phone with officials there all morning. flights between san francisco
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and japan were cancelled or rerouted this morning because of the earthquake. two flights en route to tokyo were rerouted to other airports in japan. and united and delta airlines each cancelled an incoming flight. thousands of people evacuated this morning told to go to higher ground and they are still here hours later. we'll check in with some of them on their rude awakening coming up. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
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we're back live now.
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live pictures of the harbor in santa cruz. scores of boats have sunk. water still surging there. a number of boats have been damaged. the harbor just overwhelmed this morning as surge after surge came in and it's going to take weeks if not months to get all those boats rounded up and repaired. very difficult day for folks down in santa cruz. a big traffic jam in san mateo county all morning long, as well. hundreds of cars got stuck as people in half moon bay, other coastal communities, headed eastward because of the tsunami warning. >> yeah. we understand things were so bad that caltrans brought out the porta-potties and our anne makovec is right now at the junction of highways 92 and 35 to show us some of the backup that ensued. are people still hanging out there anne. >> reporter: yes, there are dozens of people here. earlier there were hundreds. i'm at the junction of 35 and 92 here in san mateo county. just up the hill higher ground from half moon bay where people were evacuated at around 3:30 this morning. you can see a lot of people
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still here standing around waiting for the all clear and i just got off the phone with the sergeant from the san mateo county sheriff's department who says they are not going to issue that all clear until the tsunami warning is over and it certainly is not. you can see some folks over here, people still in their bed clothes because they got that call at around 3:34 a.m. some of them had their door knocked on by sheriff's deputies. there were some volunteers here with the sheriff's department that also knocked on doors and told people to get to higher ground. it was voluntary evacuation. we want to show you the backup from earlier this morning. this is in the wee early- morning hours everybody trying to get out of half moon bay. those low-lying areas. and this is where they ended up then after that traffic jam that lasted for hours into this morning. some video again from earlier this morning when hundreds of people were pouring out of the coastal areas. and we spoke with some of them about how they got here.
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>> in the morning my friend call me 3:30 and he said, lulu, you check the tv. why? just check the tv. and i turn on the tv and i look at the tsunami and it scare me. >> i got a text message from my friend saying there was going to be a tsunami at 8:15 and then i woke up and i called all my family. >> reporter: so again, people here still waiting for the all clear though. a couple of hundred people have already left and decided that they felt safe enough to go ahead and return home. these people certainly playing it safe and doing what the sheriff's officers are telling them to do, stay out of those coastal areas and one perk is that we do have the red cross here. they are making sure that people have food and water. there is a bathroom issue, though. there is no porta-potty around the area where i'm standing. a few people had to get in their cars and go down to san mateo bridge to use the
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restroom. so that is an issue. but luckily, the red cross here to at least make sure people are fed. >> no official all clear yet, right? some -- >> reporter: no, no. there is still a tsunami warning out and they say they are not going to tell people that at least that they would recommend to go back to their homes until that is lifted. at some point it will turn into an advisory in what we understand from a warning and at that point, they will allow people to go back down. but it is all voluntary so when i say "allow,," that's relatively speaking. >> anne makovec, live in san mateo, thank you. coming up, we are live in pacifica with the impact here. we'll tell you who went under evacuation orders and who is simply didn't care about the warning. ,, 3q
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port city in the northeast... where the tsunami triggered by e quake swept away it is biggest earthquake to ever hit japan. this is video of a port city in the northeast where the tsunami triggered by the quake swept away dozens of cars. states earthquake off the coast measured 8-point -- today's earthquake off the coast measured 8.9 and triggered a 23- foot tsunami. right now at least 450 people are confirmed dead. this is the fifth biggest
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earthquake since the beginning of the 20th century. >> those are cars spinning around in the whirlpool there. just unbelievable. amazing video. you got to watch it. it's so very sad. >> the earthquake so powerful it has triggered a tsunami warning for the entire west coast. the biggest place we have seen is in crescent city in northern california where an 8-foot wave came ashore after 8 a.m. >> and across the bay area, many cities have put into place voluntary evacuations. christin ayers is in pacifica where people are packed up nice and early and getting out but they are starting to come home now and she joins us live. >> reporter: that's right, frank. that tsunami -- the tsunami hazard astill in effect. the sign says it all. tsunami hazard zone. you wouldn't know it necessarily though by what we are seeing out here on the beach. if you take a look over here, check it out. people just kind of hanging out near the water with their dogs taking walks near the beach. this is an area that was under
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evacuation orders earlier today. many people evacuated here. they grab what they could, packed up and took off. and fortunately, the flooding and damage that hit other areas never materialized here. here's what residents saw. we time lapsed video. there was a wave pattern on linda mar beach and all over the bay area, causing the waves to recede and fill back in over and over. it was such a spectacle that dozens of people, many evacuees, came out armed with cameras, binoculars and cell phones just to watch it happening from a safe overlook setback from the coast. residents told me they weren't just impressed with mother nature, but also with the way authorities executed the evacuation. emergency calls went out, signs quickly went up pointing out evacuation routes. school was cancelled. and police spent the morning combing beaches to make sure no one got too close to the water and residents said the timing of the automated call was
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flawless. >> i have an automated call that went out around 4:30 in the morning. and they said that we needed to evacuate east of peralta which is half block from me. >> it was a lot more organized than it's ever been because i don't remember ever getting a phone call like that. >> at first i was like, yes, no school but then i heard tsunami and i was like, oh, my. we're scared. >> reporter: now, the most we ever really ended up seeing from this were just a few riptides but mostly smooth even very level waves rolling in, calm enough that people felt very comfortable take walks on the beaches with their dogs. they are still doing that at the moment. the tsunami warning is still in effect. authorities are advising you that really stay away from the coast but you can see people aren't necessarily in all cases staying away. i think the majority of the area is pretty clear, far clearer than normally. no surfers so that's a good
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sign, frank. >> definitely is. they are heeding the warning. we just learned -- thank you very much, christin ayers. >> we just learned that the coast guard is now searching for a man that was swept out to sea in northern california. he was taking pictures of the tsunami waves. so it is still very, very deadly out there and you should stay away. >> right. and lawrence, you had warned of this all along. people thought it may be safe to go towards the coast but still not. stay away. >> i know people are curious and want to see it tsunamis don't happen very often but they are deadly, folks. you just stay away if you can. stay away as long as you can until the thing's passed. it still continues now. we are looking at the santa cruz area again and we have been seeing the surge of some of the local rivers there now receding once again and pulling back but that doesn't mean it's over. we can very well see another surge, another tsunami, making its way onshore so you get the idea. tsunami warns in effect now still across almost the entire coast of california down to point conception and we have been seeing the focal point
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into the santa cruz area but it looks like things will be winding down hopefully as we head in toward the latter part of the afternoon unless we get more aftershocks and keep things going. let's talk weather and outside today, we have had a lot of sunshine and well, temperatures running up into the 50s and 60s. tonight, you're looking at 30s and 40s and fog. it's been a nice break from the stormy weather. a weak cold front trying to slide by bringing clouds. lots of sunshine though for today, changes though for the weekend. and if you head to the high country pack those chains you may need them up there. looks like we are going to see some unsettled weather ahead as we head through the weekend. temperatures in the 50s and 60s. and it looks like we head through the weekend, well, we are going to see more wet weather on the way. stay with us. we'll be right back. ,,,,,,,,,,
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